Refuge office to close because of shutdown

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Barring a last-minute deal on a temporary spending bill in the U.S. Senate, the doors of the office and visitors center at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge will be closed due to the government shutdown that began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The refuge, however, is still open for hunting, fishing and hiking, and driving routes to view the refuge also remain open.

“Anything that will involve having to have an employee there will not be functioning,” said Alejandro Galvan, refuge manager. “People can come hunt, fish or whatever is available this time of year.”

The refuge, 12985 E. U.S. 50 east of Seymour, sits on 7,700 acres of wetlands, forests, and grassland.

Three of the office’s six employees will not work until an agreement is reached, Galvin said. Employees are classified as accepted or unaccepted. Galvin, an accepted employee, a law enforcement officer and a maintenance man still will be required to work without pay, he said, and it’s not clear if any the employees will be compensated until Congress passes an extension.

Galvan said this isn’t the busiest time of year for the refuge.

“There’s not a lot of events going on and you’re limited in the field work you can do,” he said. “I guess from that perspective, we’re lucky it’s not a busy time.”

The last government shutdown was in September 2013. That 17-day shutdown led to the cancellation of one of its most popular events — Log Cabin Days, Galvan said.

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